Leaders trying to reach out to victims keeping an eye on panchayat polls

As heavy rain in the State continues to make life difficult for lakhs of flood-affected people in different regions, the political leaders belonging to the ruling Biju Janata Dal are now out to indulge in politics of relief with an eye on the gram panchayat polls scheduled to be held in February next.

Even as the administration in respective districts were engaged in relief operations in the worst affected zones, the BJD legislators and Ministers were fanning out to the affected areas almost on a daily basis to distribute relief material arranged by them.

According to sources, most of the leaders of the party were spending little money from their own pocket. They were arranging relief material by approaching many of the prominent private companies that were operating in the State.

In the worst affected areas in Puri and Kendrapara districts, the scene appears to be like the pre-poll days. One could spot hordes of vehicles, particularly luxury SUVs, carrying politicians desperate to reach out to their voters. Many of them are not forgetting to ensure that media persons followed them wherever they went.

This was not enough. A high-flying BJD MP is said to have already spent more money in flying down to his constituency than the amount of money he had spent on purchasing and distributing relief materials among the flood survivors.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was also lagging behind when compared to many of his party colleagues.

Although his own constituency has not been hit by flood, as head of the government he toured many flood ravaged pockets in Puri and Kendrapara on Monday and was seen serving cooked food to the survivors.

It is alleged that almost all the BJD politicians hailing from the flood-hit areas were also influencing the district administration to keep their areas in mind when it came to relief distribution.

They were showing extra concern primarily because huge funds were to be distributed in the affected areas in the coming weeks as compensation for damage to houses and crops and crores of rupees were to be spent on reconstruction work.

Dig at Centre

Further, despite the opposition criticism that the State government had failed to come to the rescue of the marooned people when needed the most, many of the BJD leaders have already started accusing the Congress-led UPA government for showing little concern for the flood-hit population.

Meanwhile, the State government has collected data from the 19 affected districts claiming that the loss caused by the floods was to the tune of Rs. 2,120.92 crore and a report on this would to be sent to the Centre on Wednesday.